The Copyright Office released its most recent Notice of Public Rulemaking, proposing a flat fee of $100 to access the small claims system even if the alleged infringer opts out of the proceeding. This would likely be cost-prohibitive to photographers and deter participation in the small claims system.
As you may remember, alleged infringers may opt-out of the small claims court in favor of a federal proceeding. We are urging the Copyright Office to split the required $100 filing fee into a smaller fee (for example, $25) for filing the claim and a larger fee (for example, $75) until the alleged infringer does not opt-out and the case becomes “active.” Despite our proposal with the Copyright Alliance, the Copyright Office insists it cannot split the fee and plans to charge everyone $100 from the start. This means that if the alleged infringer opts out, the photographer/copyright owner who filed the claim would forfeit $100 and receive nothing in return.
We believe this rule will significantly deter participation in the new small claims court. However, with our suggested split fee approach, a photographer/copyright owner might only lose $25 should the other party opt-out.
Submit a short comment to the Copyright Office in support of our proposal. Your voice helps ensure the copyright small claims proceedings are not cost-prohibitive to photographers. Comments are due by November 30, 2021, and must be submitted according to the Copyright Office’s instructions.
The main ideas to include are:
Here is a sample letter to use as guidance. Please feel free to use and edit/personalize the sample language in your own words. Click here to submit your comment to the Copyright Office.